Following on from my post about dance and Graham technique as one of the main themes of my artwork, I now come to develop another theme that influences me on other levels. While the theme of dance comes from long ago, since my childhood, the theme of this post is more recent, it began at a certain maturity reached and after almost 12 years of studies it is natural that I also end up including it in my artwork and blog.
I have been studying Tarot since 2011, when I found this very interesting book Tarot And Psychology – Spectrums Of Possibility by Dr Arthur Rosengarten, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who made Tarot cards a creative therapy method for his patients, sometimes more effective than the medication itself. I didn’t look for it, it just came to me and caught my attention at a used book fair. At the time, I had no idea that such an approach to the Tarot existed, free from mysticism, random approaches full of guesswork and miscellany, a rational and objective speech from a scientific minded professional instead. And as nothing really happens by chance, I got too much curious about it. I read the book avidly and obviously ended up developing a desire to learn Tarot. But in that sense a problem arose, I only had that book, I had no contact with Dr. Rosengarten, I felt a lack of tools, one single book has become limited to me, despite its extraordinary content. I felt the need for another type of guidance, something more structured at the level of someone who was going to start from scratch, a work that contained a basic, an intermediate and an advanced module, or a work aimed at teaching Tarot in the most complete way possible.
But having started my studies through a book so specific and rigorous in its Tarot exploration has marked my Tarot student profile from the start. I never sought to be a tarologist or tarotist, I just got enchanted with the mental exercise required in the Tarot reading technique. I would have to find a new guidance at the same height. And I found him, just a few months later, I didn’t look for him either. One day, I simply accompanied my mother to a bookshop and a certain book displayed on a shelf at eye level caught my attention again. It was the first volume of the Complete Tarot Studies by the author Nei Naiff, a 40-year career tarologist/therapist and one of the few researchers who travelled the world for more than 20 years in search of documentation on the true historical origin of the Tarot cards, having structured one of the most complete Tarot Course in the world, a monumental work. He became my ultimate mentor that I met personally several times, whether in a lecture, a live course or a congress, and through whose work I’ve been studying ever since.
Have in mind that I don’t have any clairvoyance or psychic talents for Tarot, I’m just a 12 year experienced card reader as an eternal apprentice, under pure reading technique, which more easily brings me closer to anyone interested or simply curious about it. People who use Tarot cards through psychic ability do not do it according to any technique, we cannot even call it Tarot, they just use Tarot cards as a means of communication between their Guides and the consultant. This way they are given the possibility to capture other messages, details and purposes, free of time limits (and when I mention psychics I’m referring to real psychics, that half a dozen real psychics, and not those millions who call themselves psychics, okay?). I myself, from time to time, turn to a psychic friend (yes, a real one) to complete special readings because she uses Tarot cards as a medium, she doesn’t know anything about Tarot at all, and so she has access to another kind of message far beyond Tarot’s limited purpose and timeframes.
Therefore, outside the scope of mediumship, we need to narrow ourselves to technique and Tarot pure nature, otherwise reading will never work and that is how Tarot cards are within anyone’s reach, it just takes study, humility, time and practice. Tarot reading technique is also a very interesting mental exercise, in fact, that was how it all started with me, by mental interest, an original way of exercising my mind and brain because despite my artistic work, professional skills and occultist interests, I was also a computer technician for many years and so my pragmatic side is as much important for my balance.
Having myself applied the orientation of this mysterious art in my own life over these years, emphasizing the important role of Tarot reading when I went through the greatest hardships, I was able to find how effective these readings can be for personal use.
The Tarot is not a psychic nor a prophet art, it’s just an orientation tool for daily life, limited to short periods of time, a potentiality analyser for situations and goals. For those who want to go further, Tarot can be an interesting tool for self-knowledge and spiritual development as well, but any other purpose or concept beyond that is just not Tarot, it’s something else, probably nothing at all.
There is this widespread idea that the tarotist is not the best reader for oneself, based on the three hidden Arcana theory – the destiny triad is not properly formed in the reading relationship with ourselves because there is an anachronism in this situation. However, I don’t totally agree considering that it hasn’t been my experience, it seems to me a condition that is also quite dependent on each one’s profile. If you are the introspective kind, curious, entrepreneur and self-evolving type, kind of lonely because most of those around you don’t follow your spiritual evolution and consequently your spiritual needs, then you will tend to read the cards to yourself and enjoy your personal discoveries through them, not looking for other people to do so, fulfilling the triad yourself. In fact, even for those who want to learn the Tarot in order to give future consultations, it helps a lot to know how to read the cards for yourself for quite a few years, observing what happens in your own life compared to cards drawing results. Of course, reading the cards for oneself in a successful way is directly related to one’s character, one must constantly practice impartiality and self honesty, be very self-critical and vigilant, but this is personal work that no one can do for anyone.
The Power Of Focus
When we are taught the art of meditation we are taught the art of focusing on our conscience and switching off thinking. So focus is not thought. Meditation is not thinking about nothing, it is simply stopping thinking, but if there is no sense of focus, that stopping thinking becomes impossible to accomplish because our ego is attached to thought and manipulates it. To focus on our conscience is to tune into the cosmic energy and that is the real purpose of meditation, to free ourselves from ego and connect us to our Prime Source. Focus is anti-ego. As a reikian master would say, meditation is the tuning of the human receptor with the Divine Emitter (Johnny De’ Carli). Now, this tuning requires focus. Focus is not thought, focus is convergence. To converge towards a spot is to become that spot, without obstacles, interferences or deviations. Hence all that we can desire in life depends more on focus and less on thought.
Of course, you must have faith. People without faith hardly focus on anything. I’m not talking about religious faith, but of belief because even to believe in God you do not need to be religious. If you deeply believe in this intelligent energy that creates and involves everything, and with which we can communicate through intuition – that scientifically inexplicable thing that helps us not to give up -, you are already believing in God or whatever the name.
Unlike intuition, the focus is something that is scientifically proven through the effect of its vibration. A researcher at the Hado Institute in Japan, Dr Masaru Emoto, proved the effect of focus by freezing water samples under the influence of various types of vibration, including human focus. The following images illustrate an experiment resulting from freezing a small sample of polluted water collected in Fujiwara dam and subjected to the vibration of prayer.
You can observe more such experiences under the influence of other vibrations like words, sounds and even images, on the website hado.com.
What this experiment show us is how much vibrations can influence our being, since we are 70% made of water. Our whole body reacts according to the vibration received or emitted. Depending on this same vibration, the body can surprise us in the most diverse ways, including levitation, dormant astral memories revelation and Divine abilities awakening, as in the case of healing by hands and miracles. Of course it is not something sudden or easy, we are not only simple water. The vibration effect needs time, consistency and receptivity. Naturally, some people will find it easier than others depending on their mind profiles, body health and habits. However, the power to improve this ease is within everyone’s reach. In this way, we easily understand how focus converges us to a goal, whether through prayer, meditation, mantra, intuition, sight or another sense. Once you focus on a goal, in some way you become the vibration of that goal.
And why focus and not concentration? Wouldn’t that be saying the same thing in this context? I would say that concentration may be only part of focus, like its preparation. Focus is noun and verb, so it’s the spot and the action simultaneously, that is why it attracts, and so arise approaches such as the law of attraction spread by the New Thought Movement, or in the miracles technique taught by the Hasidic Jews, or in the power of prayer advocated by the Reikians and so on. Focus attracts, it’s simple. You focus on a person in a public space and that person will end up looking at you. You fall madly in love with someone and you end up attracting one coincidence after another involving that person’s name. Concentration doesn’t attract. You can easily be distracted during concentration, but not during focus. You cannot stay concentrated all the time, but you can act permanently under the influence of focus. If you pray without focus, you will most likely end up praying with your mouth and thinking about lunch hour with your head, weakening or even nullifying that prayer purpose. If you start an ambitious project without focus, you are most likely to be manipulated by the ego in no time. The ego hates failure, it understands it as humiliation, so it uses the mechanism of doubt and low self-esteem to defend itself. You’ll be convinced that you’ll never succeed, but you’re just being dominated by the ego supported by a lack of focus.
2023 will be the year of the The Chariot Tarot card – the energy of focus in power and speed. Everything you plan now will enjoy this energetic force from January. So, focus. Study, plan, prepare, act, fail, learn, repeat, over and over without losing focus. In fact, by focusing correctly, you are more likely to fail less because your whole being converges on the target, strengthening all your senses, especially your intuition. However impossible your project may seem to you right now, don’t think about it, just focus, work for it, keep focus, and it will come true.
Of course you have to contextualise this article in a reasonable way. You’re not going to focus on being an Olympic champion without ever having played sports, right? And that’s not to say it’s not possible, as long as you meet basic conditions (like age and body health), as long as you start taking action immediately, and as long as you won’t give up, knowing how to endure until the right time. Many athletes have become Olympic champions late and having started at the age of 40, for example. They just needed stronger focus, huge determination or real guts.
Tarot And Focus
If there is this notion of focus, all Tarot learning and success in application becomes more fluid and effective. However, if there is no real prior notion of focus, the Tarot itself channels us to its own demand for focus as we go wrong in the readings, one after another. The first reaction will be to study more, we’ll think we haven’t learnt the theory enough, which can also happen. But there will come a time when we will still get too many wrong readings without really knowing why. Well, there is a lack of focus . Once you know well all the necessary theory required, everything in Tarot becomes a matter of focus. Method, question, reading, answer. Focus on the method, focus on the question, focus on the card keys, focus on the answer.
Focus on Tarot method
Remember that before the method you should study hard and know the origin of the Tarot, its history, its classification and definition, all the symbolism and vibrations of both the main and auxiliary Arcana, as well as all the structures and geometries involved. Therefore, choose a learning path that provides you with a complete teaching. You will then be able to choose the method for there is no single method of reading the Tarot. There are four major methods, the Basic, the European, the American and the Italian and then all the variants set out in thousands of online websites and so on. Focus on a single method. Choose the method of your empathy and stick with it, do not mix methods, stop reading articles and listening to suggestions, forget comparisons, and above all avoid automatic reading applications. Study coherently with identity, avoid the mistake of assuming that the more methods you know the easier it will be to read the cards. You will find exactly the opposite, you will never get your reading right. So, the method is the first focus.
Following the method, also avoid making up drawings. A complete Tarot course is capable of teaching around 20 to 30 different drawings, depending on the question and time latitude sought. But out of this large number of drawings, you will find that the best known ones are indeed the most effective, they are not the best known by chance and you can count them on the fingers of one hand. So avoid inventing your own drawings because until you can verify their effectiveness, you will have to play a very reasonable number of runs, which is a waste of time. The draws taught in the courses are those which have been tested thousands of times over the two centuries of divinatory Tarot history. It does not invalidate you from creating your own method and drawing, obviously. However, you will hardly be able to apply them to unknown people, it is possible that you will succeed only in personal use.
Focus on Tarot question
In addition to the Tarot general analysis drawings there are a number of specific analysis drawings in the face of a specific question we wish answered. We ask the Tarot if the person we love loves us in the same way and the cards answer. We ask the Tarot if we will be able to make a certain project viable in the next six months and the cards answer. This exercise of questioning is extremely important because the rigour of the answer depends on the rigour of the question, either in its semantic structure or in the focus applied. But here in Tarot the focus takes on a nuance characteristic of its practice. We do not focus on a goal for a long period of time until we achieve it as in miracles. We focus in a very short period of time, seconds, minutes at most, to obtain an immediate response that intends to guide our free will. And in a very short period of time the question may change its subject radically, as many times as questions are asked in a day, a part of a day or even a single hour. The focus ends up being worked on in a different way and the development of this capacity to focus for such a short period of time tends to slowly influence the way we question ourselves in the most varied circumstances. Knowing how to ask the question is also fundamental; the focus is also there. It helps us to be more objective and rigorous in our expressiveness. Tarot does not answer vague, confused or badly structured questions. It’s all part of the focus, because nobody can focus on something confusing.
Focus on Tarot symbols
This focus has to do with the cards pictures (in psychoanalytic language, the archetypal images), their symbols, the Arcanes (esoteric language). This is another fundamental focus because if you don’t focus on the right symbols meanings you will end up mixing your own ideas through them, diverting into your imagination or what you would like it to be, in other words, the ego once again. Let’s say that Tarot is also an anti-ego practice. The cards are what they are and not what you think they are or what you want them to be. Wherever the ego enters nothing works anymore. It goes without saying that you should choose a deck that facilitates the right focus, at least until you have the Arcanes language deeply internalised. Start with the traditional deck, the Tarot de Marseille, avoiding the transcultural, mystical, cabalistic and artistic decks. Once you have internalised the symbols effectively, you won’t even need a specific deck, you can use small pieces of paper with the name of each card written on them. All the focus work practised so far will bring each card Key to your mind immediate and effortlessly.
Focus on Tarot answer
Incredibly, it is perhaps here at the very end of a reading that the focus fails most, do the reading for yourself, do the reading for a friend or a stranger. Focusing on the answer is truly believing the Tarot, in other words, it is testing our credibility in every way. The most common thing is to do a Tarot reading out of mere curiosity, without focus, similar to the prayer you say with your lips but far away in your heart and mind. Therefore, the most common thing is for a person to consult the cards, but then act as he/she wishes, as he/she feels like, underestimating the oracular analysis and its advice. Once again, the ego. Now if the cards advise not to invest in such a business because the Arcana conjugations present too many dissonances, it is to focus on the cards recommendation and comply. Otherwise, the effect in real life will be financial bankruptcy or something similar. That’s when you’ll regret not having focused on that cards advice, when it will be too late. If you read the cards to yourself and miss this focus, naturally the previous focus has also failed because if you had truly felt the symbols vibration you would not dare to disregard the oracular advice, nor would you remember such a thing. If you feel the vibration of a Hanging Man on a material level question you will immediately accept a goal shift advice because the one on question will not be accomplished, it is not worth doubting. You only doubt it if you don’t focus correctly on symbolic language or if you deep down don’t believe in what you’re doing.
Life Reading Follows Your Heart
So again, any focus requires faith. Without true faith there is no true focus and without focus there is no vibration and without vibration there is no effect. Believing in the Tarot is like believing in any other esoteric, holistic, spiritually or empirically based tool such as prayer, meditation, gratitude, love, mantra, astrology, reiki, yoga, etc. The success of any of them depends on your belief. If you don’t believe, nothing works. Even in science, if you don’t believe in it too nothing will make sense to you, perhaps not even the act of living. Not believing in anything is something unnatural, it contradicts the law of the Universe whose creation – almost 14 million years ago – was so extraordinary and so meticulously calculated that it is impossible to have happened by chance or random coincidence, it must have been created and so it is impossible to disbelieve in a super intelligent energy and its mysterious intention – this was Einstein’s great argument about his God formula.
But don’t forget that focus can work for good as well as bad, it depends on what you focus on. Remember that it is possible to die of mourning, of longing, of pain, of sadness, etc… – wrong focus. Suicide – wrong focus. Some diseases – wrong focus. Some accidents – wrong focus. And so on. Be careful what you focus on because the worst focus is the one that is not intentional, it is the one we do not even notice, it starts slowly and goes on forming, disguised, it is a kind of involuntary focus, created by the ego in reaction to something, be it an event, memory, feeling or whatever. Therefore, and once again, the best path to positive and voluntary focus is total control of the ego. From my personal experience, the best tools to support this are prayer, gratefulness and meditation.
Traditional Japanese Reiki explains in an extraordinary way this dynamic between prayer and meditation, in that through prayer we speak to God and through meditation we allow Him to answer us and thus establish a dialogue with our Primal Source. Even if there is ego in the prayer act, in the meditation part it is extinguished, otherwise we cannot meditate. This exercise done daily ends up generating the perfect vibration to any necessary change. Hasidic Judaism teaches how to generate miracles through gratitude. No less extraordinary than the Reikian concept, the Hasidic principle explains that prayer usually contains within itself a complaint, something that is asked of God, that is, a part of ego. If instead of praying we give thanks for everything we have and everything we don’t have, for the good and the bad, instead of taking from God we are giving Him from us, ignoring the ego. What Reiki calls Divine dialogue through meditation, Hasidic calls change in the Divine will (dinim) through gratitude, so giving thanks especially for the bad will lead God to change it into good, without asking or taking, just by the unselfish energy of gratitude. Wonderful techniques of freeing ourselves from ego and making it easier to practice our focus.
Finally, we still have the Tarot. All the focus-action guided by the Tarot ends up channelling us towards the increase of mental horizons, always by the Tarot itself or because it may kick us into the search for other practices and studies. After a few years, depending also on our age (mainly after 40), we start perceiving other readings of life, we find ourselves in our own life retrospective full of symbols and related events that we had never equated in this or any other way. The mind reaches other levels of understanding and deeper layers of our own existence are revealed. In this way life takes on an exceptional colourfulness and you find yourself really enjoying living.
One of my elected music pieces that I use to stimulate focus, by one of my favourite sax players, Amy Dickson.
Philip Glass – Violin Concerto No 1. (2nd movement)
Curious Facts About Tarot
Common playing cards appeared between 1367 and 1397, but it is not possible to establish a year, place or culture of origin. The first records found in some manuscripts call the card game naibis and ludus cartarum.
There is much controversy over the word naibi. Some say it is of Arabic origin, meaning ruler or authority, while others attest to its origin from Latin, meaning prediction, witchcraft. However, there is no philological root for both. On the other hand, in the Middle East the word naibi has no connection whatsoever with cards or similar games, just as the Koran forbids all kinds of gambling. There are also those who say it is based on Hebrew or ancient Italian: nabi, naibes, naba, nabaa allude to the concept of prophecy, luck. For its part, the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (1734) maintains that naipe derives from the initial N. P., from the name of the Spaniard Nicolas Pepin, being the inventor of playing cards; however, nothing supports this claim. A striking fact is that it closely resembles the word naipe (Portuguese and Spanish word for the common deck – suit in English), but in what way it originated from naibi, that no one knows. Naibi was only used in the Italian and German languages; Naipe, in the Spanish and Portuguese languages.
Some time after the appearance of the naibis (which varied in number according to the region and the game), there appeared in the north of Italy (Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto regions) the 22 engravings equivalent to what we call today the Major Arcana, which were called triumph or trump, but there is no knowledge of who illustrated them, nor a certain date, nor the reason for their being 22, nor the reason for the name triumph. Therefore, these cards did not originate in Egypt, nor were they brought by the Gypsies to Europe, much less were they conceived by mystical entities or characters from the Hebrew Bible. They were natural images of European society with its cultural symbols, social classes, dresses and ornaments, without any mystical or occult attributions. The first records of a complete set of naibis together with trumps indicate the Lombardy region of Milan, under the government of Filippo Maria Visconti (1392-1447) and his successor Francesco Sforza (1401-1466), but only between 1550 and 1630 did Tarot take on the classical numbered and symbolic form (Marseilles), which is still in use, but it is also not known how it happened. Perhaps there was some consensus between producers and artists in order to regulate a structure to facilitate mass production with the advent of the printing press, giving rise to the spread of the card games to long distances, cultures and all social classes.
Both suits and Tarot decks have always been used for playful purposes. The oldest record of the oracular use of cards dates back to 1540 (using only the suit of diamonds), making the common deck (suits) the origin of cartomancy. The oracular use of the Tarot structure (trumps and suits) only emerged in the 18th century, with a focus on Paris and naturally in the face of the great changes of that time – the “Enlightenment Century” or the “Century of Philosophy“, which dominated the world of ideas in Europe and aimed to overcome prejudices, traditional ideologies and dogmas, separating the State from the Church, giving Tarot the opportunity to reveal itself in its esoteric aspect to curious and willing minds.
Reference: “Complete Tarot Studies” – Volume I – Chapter 5 “Genesis of the Tarot” by Nei Naiff
This article is related to my latest artwork – Tarot Mandala. This Mandala represents a vectorised, figurative exercise inspired on one of Nicolas Conver’s deck models dating from 1760, but most likely produced between 50 and 70 years later. The handmade printing technique, as well as the effect of its rudimentary and more rectilinear graphic appearance are particularly appealing to me from the aspect of my profession as a printing specialist. But the detail that decided on this model was the year 1760, a very interesting one from the point of view of my personal study. Supposedly, Nicolas Conver could never have printed any Tarot deck or anything else in 1760 since he himself was born 24 years later, which makes the date 1760 a reference of another level. However, this artwork does not intend to invoke the model, but the theme developed in this post. This mandala is the first in a series of mandalas dedicated to Tarot. It represents the Major Arcana in a simple and static way, under a circular form regarding their cycle meaning – with beginning, middle and end. To each Arcana corresponds a key which translates that same Arcana function in the cycle. This dynamism will be worked and illustrated in other mandalas. For now, the inspiration is more ornamental, Arcana and symbols, in a 18th century way.
The word Mandala means ‘circle’ in Sanskrit and is regarded as an ancient symbol of healing and spirituality. Mandala also has other meanings, such as Magic Circle or Energy Core, and universally a Mandala is a symbol of integration and harmony, the link between man and the cosmos, a calming tool that I myself often use on very tense days, for mental and emotional balance or to sharpen a particular focus. Mandalas are great visual tools to increase focus.
Tarot Mandala is part of the Super Tarot Mandala campaign sold exclusively through the Hotmart network, with membership available.
Find references and more knowledge in Learning Links.